Top Chef
Rebuilding New Orleans

Episode Report Card
Carla Sparks: C | 25 USERS: B
YOU GRADE IT
The Good, The Bad, The Ceviche

With 18 chefs left, we can’t possibly even begin to know them. 12 is a good starting place, 18 is too many. After Ramon’s elimination, Padma walks into the pressure cooker or boiler room or whatever they call the holding area for chefs on this show. She says she knows they’re all probably tired (and sticky from the swamp) but it’s time for the first Quickfire. Already!

For the Quickfire, the chefs have to make gumbo. We’re in New Orleans, so we have to get all the gimmicks out of the way as soon as possible. Padma says a good gumbo takes a while to make and often tastes better the next day, so the chefs will start their challenge that night back at the house, and will have 15 minutes to finish it the next day in the Top Chef Kitchen. This is technically more time than ever, and the winner will receive immunity for the elimination challenge.

Aaron, who was nearly eliminated in the first challenge, has never made gumbo before. So you know, it’s looking really good for him. The chefs hurry back to the house to crowd the kitchen and pour their ingredients into a pot out on the patio or whatever. At nearly midnight, the chefs are still working. Aaron has decided on an Asian fusion gumbo. Ahhhh, I don’t know.

Hot Jason from Pittsburgh is Polish. His mom died when he was three. Neither of these facts are very relevant to his gumbo, except that he’s using potatoes. None of these gumbos will be traditional, but they are all brown. It’s hard to say whose won’t suck. Michael -- one of the chefs from New Orleans -- hates his gumbo, but this is nothing compared to his battle against cancer. Chefs are people, too.

Back in the Top Chef kitchen, the chefs heat up their gumbos. One of the dishes turns green, but its creator hopes for the best. The viewers say this Quickfire is 7/10 tough, according to the polls. I assume I’m not the only one trying to execute these challenges alongside the show in real time.

The guest judge for this round is Leah Chase, who is a renowned chef and looks like Ms. Claudette from Orange is the New Black. Michael’s "drunken chicken gumbo" from 1 AM is up first and Leah Chase just thinks everything is great. Shirley, Janine and Aaron all made Asian-style gumbos. At that point, Justin’s traditional gumbo is a welcome change.

Patty -- who worries us anyway -- made a Puerto Rican style gumbo with plantains. Bret made a chowder gumbo, whatever that means. Carrie’s gumbo is green, but Iowan and Trinidadian. I can’t speak to the taste, but it looks funky. The gumbos keep marching in: Carlos with his chipotle gumbo, Jason’s stewed cabbage gumbo, Nina’s yucca-based gumbo and Louis’s lamb gumbo. Sara brings in another Asian-inspired tofu gumbo, served on a plate. It’s only a matter of time before Sara tanks it, right?

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Top Chef

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